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Why are light switches so often wired in the wrong order. For example, on a single board, the switch closest to the hallway is for the lounge while the switch closest to the lounge turns on the hallway light. Is this less likely to happen in luxury homes? Can I fix this easily myself?

  • Drunken electricans? And yes, you can probably move wires around. It's sometimes easy; sometimes hard. – Aloysius Defenestrate Apr 23 at 1:52
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    Worst is at my synagogue. Triple switches in 3 rooms with movable walls (usually 2 parts together and 1 part separate but they can all be separate (so separate groups of lights) or together (so all switches in each location). They are all wired backwards - left switch in each group does the right room and the right switch does the left room. Alcohol or drugs. Definitely. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Apr 23 at 1:57
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    This is less likely to happen in homes where the owners are handy and realize how easy it is to move them around. (Turn the breaker off first!!) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 23 at 3:05
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    Remember that a lot of so-called "luxury homes" are better known as "McMansions" -- designed by builders, not architects, and designed to appeal to nouveaux riche families with surface flash like fancy countertops, but with the hidden infrastructure being built as quickly and cheaply as possible. – Eric Lippert Apr 23 at 19:42
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Last I checked someone had drawn little arrows on the wall. If the positions are fixed, those will be all wrong. ;-) – Moshe Katz Apr 23 at 19:46
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Why are light switches so often wired in the wrong order. For example, on a single board, the switch closest to the hallway is for the lounge while the switch closest to the lounge turns on the hallway light.

Because money. Paying someone else less money to do a set amount of work is a way to increase profits. The electricians for tract (non custom) homes need to do the set amount of work in the least amount of time to increase or even have a profit. There is no motivation for them to care about the switch order and a motivation to not care as doing so would take time.

Is this less likely to happen in luxury homes?

If the luxury home is a tract home, then probably not. If a custom home, then absolutely! I would even say that it does not happen in high end homes as the home owner is very involved and the electricians are used to working with such clients, everyone knows that the details are important

Can I fix this easily myself?

Yes, if the wire tails are long enough. It can be as easy as pulling off the cover, pulling the mount screws and moving the switches (no rewiring). Turn off the power at the panel first of course

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    moving the switches (no rewiring) I'd think in general it would be difficult to swap two switches without disconnecting the wires - you'd likely end up with a twisted tangle trying to do it with them still connected. – J... Apr 23 at 16:52
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The switch plate was wired correctly but screwed in upside-down?

I noticed that in one house I moved into: a three-way switch not only had the left-hand switch controlling a light off to the right, but each of the three switches was set to turn on by pressing the upper half of the rocker, and off by pressing the lower.

When I unscrewed the plate (after removing power from that circuit, of course!), I found that the wires were all twisted round. Rotating the switch plate 180° not only untwisted the wires, but also restored the switch order and orientation!  So I concluded that at some point someone had simply screwed the switchplate in the wrong way up.

That doesn't explain all cases, of course; but it has happened at least once!

(Of course, don't try this if the wires aren't twisted around; you don't want to stretch or pull them out…)

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    While this is often true in IECland where switches are an integral part of the switchplate, North American wiring generally has the switches on independent yokes instead, so it doesn't work over here. – ThreePhaseEel Apr 23 at 11:44
  • @ThreePhaseEel I'm in North America and I had a switch screwed in upside down in the house I moved into. – Kevin Beal Apr 23 at 19:38
  • @KevinBeal -- yeah, there's a definite mounting orientation for single-pole switches, so that's both daft and a Code vio in that case (see NEC 404.7). HOWEVER, multiway switches have no "up", as they have no set "On" and "Off" labeling on them. – ThreePhaseEel Apr 23 at 22:35

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